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Losing the "War on Terrorism"

Reader comment on item: [The Need to Name and] Know Thy Terrorists

Submitted by Edward Cline (United States), Nov 19, 2002 at 18:39

I agree with Mr. Pipes' closing comment: "A war cannot be won without identifying the enemy."

Which leaves me to wonder: Does President Bush wish to identify that enemy? Is he able to?

Bush's initially correct assessment of the enemy has collapsed, I'm afraid, under the pressure of the same-said pragmatic, non-judgmental foreign policy that encouraged 9/11 and all the attacks before and since then. From declaring over a year ago that our enemy comprised states that support or instigate terrorism -- acknowledging implicitly that war was declared by killers against us -- he now harps on the "war on terrorism" and "disarming Iraq." But, terrorism is merely a method or an action, not an action-generating entity, such as a state. As for "disarming" Iraq, the best and most just action would be to remove the "armed" entity, Saddam Hussein, who, as a murdering tyrant, has already forfeited his right to life, never mind his right to rule.

I liken Bush's conundrum to FDR promising to fight "kamakazism," not Imperial Japan, or "invasionism," not Nazi Germany. In World War II, the U.S. sought to eradicate the governments that had initiated force, and not merely the agents of that force. Where would Britain be today if Churchill responded to the Blitz by promising to hunt down and punish just German bomber pilots who were reducing London and other British cities to rubble?

I don't know who to blame for this situation: Bush himself... or his bevy of advisors, chiefly Secretary Powell...

By now, Iraq ought to have had a new, pro-Western government in place; perhaps a revolution would have occurred in Iran (now no longer "evil"?) and toppled the virulantly anti-Western theocracy there. Arafat would have earned his long deserved and long-postponed demise, togehter with all his murdering entourage. Perhaps nearly 200 merry-makers in Bali would still be alive. And, no one would be debating the pros and cons of a Homeland Security Bill, for none would be needed; terrorists would have crawled back into their poisonous holes, or found gainful employment somewhere. (And, who was responsible for that term, "homeland," in the first place? It's so German and collectivist in tone and connotation.)

Whatever philosophy is guiding Bush's words and actions, it is not a philosophy of reason. And reason is the only thing that will give us a fighting chance against those who want to kill us. So, it isn't just an open war against "militant Islam." Rather, it ought to be a war against states that support or instigate terrorism, Islamic or not. I imagine that IRA bombers and Spanish and Portugese terrorists are among the most religious Christians one could imagine.
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